Civil War Significant Events

  • South Carolina Secedes

    A site of controversy surrounding secession ever since the nullification crisis in the 1800’s, South Carolina finally left the country. The last domino to fall was the election of Abraham Lincoln, as he opposed the views of the South.
  • Confederacy is formed

    In Montgomery, Alabama, representatives from 7 states agreed on terms and wrote a new constitution for the confederacy, which stressed states rights over those of the federal government. Jefferson Davis was named the president.
  • Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated

    The new president said he had no plans to end slavery in those states where it already existed, but he also said he would not accept secession. He hoped to resolve the national crisis without warfare.
  • First shots of Civil War are fired

    Lincoln attempted to peacefully move supplies to Fort Sumter, but the South suspected an attempted attack. Robert Anderson, the man in charge of the fort, said he would only surrender when his supplies ran out. Tired of waiting, the South attacked the fort and the first battle of the war ensued.
  • Virginia split

    The inhabitants of the western portion of Virginia did not want to secede with the rest of the state. The west split off from the rest of the state and joined the Union two years later on June 20, 1863.
  • Slave states join the Union

    Despite their acceptance of slavery, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri did not join the Confederacy. A combination of political maneuvering and Union military pressure kept these states from seceding. This proved to be key, as many factories were in these territories.
  • First battle of Bull Run

    The First Battle of Bull Run pits Union General Irvin McDowell against the new Confederate army. McDowell is defeated causing a panicked retreat back to Washington, which is about forty miles away. The withdrawal is hampered by the large numbers of spectators who are there to see the battle.
  • Robert E. Lee appointed general of Confederate army

    The confederate army’s advantages were very few, but one of them was their strength of generals. Robert E. Lee was one of the best generals of his time. Even with limited resources, he was able to hold off the North for years. Lee was the general who eventually surrended to the North.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Written by Abraham Lincoln. It freed all slaves in the South (even though the South was out of Lincoln’s control), and ordered the enlistment of black soldiers. From this point forward, the Civil War is a war over slavery.
  • Battle of Gettysburg

    The Union Army under General Meade defeated Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. One of the bloodiest battles of the war, Gettysburg is a turning point, and marks the farthest advance of the Confederate Army into northern territory.
  • Ulysses S. Grant appointed general

    Lincoln appoints Grant as the head general of the Union army. This ended his long search for a fit general to command northern forces. The North had a long line of unsuccessful generals that hurt their chances of winning the war. General William T. Sherman takes over as commander in the West.
  • Battle of the Wilderness

    This was one of the bloodiest battles of the war behind the Battle of Gettysburg. Even worse, however, was the fact that thousands of soldiers burned to death in forest fires. Over 25,000 soldiers were killed.
  • Battle of Cold Harbor

    One of the worst losses of the Union during the Civil War. Due to a series of tactical mistakes by general Ulysses S. Grant, the Union was exposed. As a result, 7,000 Union soldiers were killed in 20 minutes.
  • General Sherman caputues Atlanta

    On his memorable march to the sea, General Sherman captured the important Union city of Atlanta. After capturing the city, Sherman and his army burned the city. The march continued throughout the South, an important battle of the civil war.
  • 13th Amendment ratified

    On this day the 13th amendment was ratified in Congress. The amendment officially abolished slavery in the USA. As opposed to the Emancipation Proclamation, this freed the slaves but with backing, as the North would eventually require the South to agree to it the rejoin the Union.
  • Robert E. Lee surrenders

    General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant in a farmhouse in the town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The war is ended, but not without massive loss of life. Millions of soldiers were killed in one of the bloodiest wars in history.
  • 13th Amendment agreed on by all states

    All states approve the 13th amendment and it goes into effect. All slaves are ratified in current areas under the jurisdiction of the US government, with the land of the Confederacy slowly added in the coming years
  • Tennessee rejoins the Union

    After months of a stalemate, Tennessee rejoins the Union. Tennessee was the first former Confederate state to rejoin the Union. This was the first domino to fall in reconstruction, as other states soon followed in suit.
  • 2nd Reconstruction Act passed

    After being defeated, the Confederacy was forced to give rights to blacks, one of which was the right to vote. The Southerners, however, devised many other ways around this, such as scarring blacks from the polls of intelligence tests. This bill required all eligible males, including blacks, to vote.
  • 14th Amendment ratified

    This amendment revoked the three-fifths compromise in the Constitution and creates a new federal category of citizenship. This new category for citizenship allowed blacks to be citizens, a major turning point. This signified the official end of slavery, as now all blacks would be on the same level as whites in the eyes of the government. It is one of the most important constitutional amendments ever ratified.